TORONTO — Ontario's municipal affairs and housing minister said Wednesday he has not yet made any decisions on the break up of Peel Region, though he is now calling it a "potential" dissolution.
Paul Calandra's comments come amid media reports citing unnamed sources that say the government is reconsidering its plan to dissolve the upper-tier municipality and leave Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon standing on their own.
"The dissolution of Peel wasn't scheduled to take place until 2025," Calandra said Wednesday. "We're doing a lot of due diligence to see how it would be done, what the cost would be, but I've made no decision on that yet."
Calandra said legislation put in place "a potential dissolution of Peel for 2025."
That law, titled the Hazel McCallion Act (Peel Dissolution), says the Region of Peel is dissolved on Jan. 1, 2025 and a transition board will be appointed to provide recommendations to the minister on winding down the region's financial operations and the long-term sustainability of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon as single-tier municipalities.
The transition board has not yet publicly reported on any findings, but Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown is pointing to a Deloitte report updating 2019 data that shows the dissolution would lead to an extra $1.3 billion in operating costs over 10 years and sharp increases in taxes on local residents.
Brown said in a news release that the report shows dissolution could negatively impact essential emergency services.
“We never asked for the Region of Peel to be dissolved," he wrote. "We have always asked for redundancy to be removed. The independent financial analysis clearly shows the net result would be a financial disaster for Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon."
But Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie — who was named the new Ontario Liberal Party leader over the weekend and is set to resign her municipal post in the new year — called that report into question and urged Premier Doug Ford not to make any "rash decisions based on faulty numbers."
"I want to be clear: independence is about reaching a deal that's fair and equitable for all of our taxpayers," Crombie said at a press conference.
"Dissolving Peel Region and eliminating an additional layer of government will allow all of us — Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon — to become more efficient, reduce confusion amongst residents, streamline the delivery of services, and ultimately save residents and businesses time and money."
Calandra said there is "no way" the provincial government will ever allow property taxpayers to shoulder a burden they can't afford.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2023.
Allison Jones, The Canadian Press